Work and dedication of foster carers recognised at special gathering

Fostering celebration at Bedford Borough Council. In the photo attached (from left to right): Cllr Sue Oliver, Fantastic Fostering 25 Year Long Service Award winners Keith Knell and Heather Knell (with their son), Chief Executive Philip Simpkins, and Head of Looked After Children, Tara Geere.
Fostering celebration at Bedford Borough Council. In the photo attached (from left to right): Cllr Sue Oliver, Fantastic Fostering 25 Year Long Service Award winners Keith Knell and Heather Knell (with their son), Chief Executive Philip Simpkins, and Head of Looked After Children, Tara Geere.

Dedicated foster carers were recognised and celebrated at the annual Celebration of Fostering which has taken place in Bedford borough.

More than 100 foster carers were joined at the event by Mayor Dave Hodgson, Cllr Sue Oliver, chief executive Philip Simpkins, Social Care staff, foster children and family members.

The Celebration of Fostering event took place at the Harpur Suite organised by Bedford Borough Council’s Fostering Service and the Bedfordshire Foster Care Association.

In total, over 80 years of long service was commended and recognised with awards being presented for 5 years long service to 5 fostering households, 10 years long service to 3 households and 25 years long service to Heather and Keith Knell.

In addition to awards for long service, the Bedfordshire Foster Care Association acknowledged the Foster Carer of the Year and Corporate Parent of the Year, and the Children in Care Council celebrated the Kids Who Share with an award dedicated to the children of foster carers who also share their lives and homes.

The event included a key-note speech from David Akinsanya, whose own experiences in care in his childhood helped develop his interest in drama and shaped his career as a broadcaster and journalist, often reporting on experiences of other people in care and who have been adopted.

Chairman of Bedfordshire Foster Care Association, Brian Roberts, said: “We were pleased to have been involved in the first Foster Carer Awards organised by Bedford Borough. It was great to see so many foster carers being rewarded for their dedication and the work they do looking after some of the most vulnerable children in Borough.

“As an independent association representing foster carers across Bedfordshire we were pleased to present two special awards, one for fantastic foster carers and the other for any non-foster carer who had made an exceptional contribution to the lives of children in care and foster carers. The whole evening was a great success and we are already looking forward to the next awards.”

Cllr Sue Oliver, Executive Member for Children’s Social Care at Bedford Borough Council, said: “Bedford Borough Council only launched its own Fostering and Adoption Service in January this year, so this was the first awards event we have hosted. We were determined to make the evening a real celebration of everything our Foster Carers do for our children in care.

“Even though I was a foster carer myself I never fail to be impressed by dedication and commitment of these families, so I’m pleased we had the chance to say thank you for the extraordinary work they do.”

If you are interested in becoming one of Bedford Borough’s foster carers, get in touch with the team on 01234 718718 or email adoptionandfoster@bedford.gov.uk